Irises forum: Solarization attempt

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Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Aug 4, 2015 6:07 AM CST
You know, it was bound to happen. I put in alot of effort and the Sun takes a vacation. I have several beds that need alot of attention. They need to be dug up and amended and re-planted. The first step is to try a weed control called "solarization". These beds are over run with WEEDS. So I cleared a bed that was the worst performer (poor iris growth and major iris loss) and laid down the plastic. I went the cheap, do it now with what I got method rather than the right materials because of time and cost. I am using "regular 4 mil "construction" plastic rather than the UV-inhibitor type because I already had a roll and did not want to travel the hour to get the right stuff (forget the fact that the right stuff would have cost about $100 plus the gas to get there and back).

The other crappy issue is that the Sun has decided to take a vacation. It has been very sunny and very warm (upper 80's and lower 90's) for the last two weeks. The next 10 days are going to be cloudy and cool. Timing is everything and I am waaaaay off! Oh well. I am going to leave it in place for about two weeks and them do another bed. This could be interesting.


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Did I know about the weather change? No. But I do now. I was awaken this morning at 3:16AM by the bad thunderstorm and then I drove through it on the way to work. Just looked up the 10 forecast. Lots of clouds and a fair amount of rain (no complaints in that I need the rain as my ground is very dry).

Again; timing is everything!

Name: Eric Jarrett
Vale, NC (Zone 7b)
Beekeeper Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Region: North Carolina
EJarrett
Aug 4, 2015 6:32 AM CST
I'm going to have to try this, as well. I have read so many good things about solarization. Did you put on any amendments first or did you put it down over the "weedy" beds?
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Aug 4, 2015 6:36 AM CST
No amendments were added though I could have used a bit more dirt in the bed. I cleaned the bed well as the first picture will attest to. You would need to till a weedy bed as this will not work well on a bed that was not prepped.
Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
Irises Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Permaculture Composter Organic Gardener
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Linneaj
Aug 4, 2015 6:49 AM CST
Clear or translucent plastic creates a greenhouse for weeds. Black plastic creates a solar collector that bakes weeds. Buy black plastic or get big black trash bags (you can reuse later) and lay them over the plastic, weighted with rocks or something.
Don't make fear based decisions.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Aug 4, 2015 6:57 AM CST
Good idea Linnea. I had not thought of black trash bags as they are fragile. However, laying them over the tougher plastic and weighing them with stones would work. And, like you said perhaps I could re-use them later and if the sun had weakened them to the point to make them useless it would be no great loss.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Aug 4, 2015 7:00 AM CST
I have been solarizing for years. Mostly in the veggie garden though. First off, you can do it with cheap farm tarps. (get them at tractor supply, or Farm and Fleet stores) I get the kind that are black on one side and silver on the other, the largest of these is less then $50. I put the black side up. I hold them down by putting short cheap electric fence step in posts through the grommet holes. The idea is that the black tarp collects heat. It doesn't allow the moisture to escape so you have a worm moist area where the weed seeds try to germinate and die for lack of light. If light gets through, the weeds can grow under it, kind of like a terrarium. If you have enough time (like doing it early in the spring until late fall or the next spring) then you can just spread your compost on top of the soil, and the worms and insects will break it down and mix it into the soil for you. You won't have to till or work the soil at all before planting. Before I stole a bunch of my veggie garden for irises, I used to plant half of the garden, and solarize the other half, then switch every other year. It was amazing how few weeds you have to deal with then. I'm solarizing a new area right now to use as a veggie garden so I have more space to rotate crops to avoid blight. (Also as I keep making seedlings, I'm going to have to take up even more of the veggie garden space.) To get the most benefit from it, you need to let it solarize for several months at least. I'd recommend solarizing areas now that you want to plant next year. It's a great "No chemical" way to get a bed ready. Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Aug 4, 2015 7:02 AM CST
Clear plastic will do the job fine. I would say better than black plastic as more of the Sun's energy will pass through and bake the ground whereas the back will absorb more energy. I am using the same method that Rick & Roger use at Superstition Iris Gardens but on a much smaller scale (and smaller time scale too!).
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Aug 4, 2015 7:07 AM CST
I wish I had the California Sun as this method works fine out there. Not sure what results I will get with less Sun, maybe less intensity, and slightly lower temps. I wish I had the space to switch back and forth from bed to bed like they do at Superstition. Just don't have the room. Could it be that I have too many irises?

Nah, can't be right?
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Aug 4, 2015 7:19 AM CST
Oh surely not.......................
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Eric Jarrett
Vale, NC (Zone 7b)
Beekeeper Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Region: North Carolina
EJarrett
Aug 4, 2015 7:52 AM CST
Misawa77 said:Could it be that I have too many irises?


Is that even possible? Big Grin
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
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Zencat
Aug 4, 2015 8:58 AM CST
You can never have too many irises! You can have not enough space, not enough $, not enough time but never too many irises!
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
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Zencat
Aug 4, 2015 8:59 AM CST
For a small space, I used an old plastic tablecloth. I left it for 7-8 weeks and it killed the grass and weeds.
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Aug 4, 2015 9:20 AM CST
This one will only be on for a short time. I intended to put it out around July 4th and then change to the next bed 20-25 days later. I may get 15 days on this one. Who knows.
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
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Zencat
Aug 4, 2015 9:23 AM CST
Oh duh. I read you had limited time. I should know better. Coffee first, THEN post. Blinking
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Aug 5, 2015 6:28 PM CST
Run out of room? You have that whole front yard empty of iris!!! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Aug 5, 2015 6:34 PM CST
I've talked about this before. I was given a command to remove all of the irises from the front yard. I can not go back.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 5, 2015 10:53 PM CST
Greg, I do believe you're right about clear plastic. Down here it is necessary to solarize the soil regularly for nematodes. All the commercial farmers must do it so it's well documented. Clear plastic is the recommended stuff, for most heat generation as long as you seal the edges down well. But I can tell you from experience, the cheap stuff disintegrates very fast in good sun. Six weeks is also the normal timing, best started in early June to take advantage of the hottest sun.

Obviously, black also works as Tom's experience shows but not as well. Think of a closed unventilated greenhouse in the blazing sun all day.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Aug 6, 2015 3:02 AM CST
The reason I use black is because I am re-purposing the tarps that I use to cover hay. However, I did use a blue one that I bought for the purpose of using as a mulch as it was cheaper. It does allow some sun through it, and some weeds still grow under it. I also use it as a mulch in my veggie garden. It virtually eliminates weeding. Smiling
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I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Aug 6, 2015 4:42 AM CST
I wonder if clear is better for hot or sunnier regions? I'd tried that once but just got a jungle of weeds under the plastic, even in the hottest part of summer. I have had good luck with black though...
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Aug 6, 2015 5:46 AM CST
I think since our earth is moist, and we do have a lot of underground water, that the clear just makes a hot, hot greenhouse. The moisture gathers under it so that you cant see through it and the weeds do live in that hot moist atmosphere. When I take care of pesky hard to manage weeds I use boiling water and sometimes that just kills the tops and they come back from the roots. I guess our weeds like it hot. The black plastic makes it a lot hotter but it has to be on for a long period of time before it kills the weeds.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......

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